U.S. Agriculture:

Status of the Farm Sector

RCED-95-104FS: Published: Mar 3, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 3, 1995.

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GAO provided information on the condition of the U.S. farm sector, focusing on: (1) agriculture's position in the U.S. economy; (2) the level of U.S. agricultural outputs and inputs; (3) the condition of the agricultural resource base; and (4) the federal government's financial support of agricultural producers.

GAO found that: (1) the farm sector's share of the nation's gross domestic product declined from 3.9 percent in 1960 to 1.4 percent in 1992; (2) farm employment, as a percentage of total employment, fell from 8.1 percent in 1960 to 2.5 percent in 1993; (3) the number of farms decreased 39 percent and average farm size increased 28 percent between 1964 and 1992; (4) in 1991, farming was most important to the economies of the Northern Plains states; (5) U.S. farm productivity increased greatly from 1964 to 1991 due to the development and use of new technologies; (6) agricultural output has generally increased since 1964, although a relatively small number of products, states, and farms account for the majority of agricultural sales; (7) the index of agricultural inputs remained steady from 1964 to 1991, however, some inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation increased during that time; (8) in the past two decades, the public has become increasingly concerned about the conditions of the nation's natural resources; (9) in the past 30 years, government spending on farm programs has declined in comparison with that on other programs; and (10) commodities payments are the primary form of government support to farmers.

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